Online layaways put e-shopping on a budget

By Cindy McNicholl

WKTV - A blast from the past makes avoiding credt card overload easier in stores AND online.  Years ago, Christmas club accounts and layaway plans kept the frugal Christmas shopper on budget and in the black, until easy credit arrived and layout counters closed.

Credit card backlash and timid shoppers have sent stores searching for ways to get customers back in the mall and spending again.  Everything old becomes new again ... with an online twist. 

Layout counters are opening again in retail giants like Kmart, Toys R Us, select Best Buy Stores, Sears, some TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Burlington Coat Factory stores, to name a few.  But gone are the ledgers that count down the weekly payments.  They've been replaced by computerized accounts that do all the math for you, complete with online calculators.

Not all locations offer layaway, since the inventory takes space and personnel to maintain.  Can't find a store near you with layaway?  You're not totally out of luck. 

Independent websites like handle layaway for traditional stores you're used to shopping at, as well as for specialty e-commerce sites.  You search by product or retailer and shop at the Layaway Mall, promising a flexible payment plan you can set yourself.  Unique products include gift cards on time payment.

Even though you save money on credit card interest and keep your balances lower too, there are some precautions to remember.  There is usually a small handling charge, about $5.00.  There is a down payment required.  Also, you need to be sure you will be able to make the payments on time or you can lose your layaway item and sometimes even the deposit.


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